How to build an eCommerce website from scratch
By the end of this tutorial, you’ll be able to create your eCommerce store from scratch without coding using WordPress, WooCommerce, and Thrive Architect.
In this short tutorial, you will learn how to use visual builders with drag-and-drop features and eCommerce templates to facilitate website design. You will not need coding, and while knowing HTML and CSS can help, it is not a requirement.
Building your eCommerce website on your own should not be complicated, and it could take 2-3 weeks to have a fully functional online business. Your site can be live in a few minutes, but uploading content, customizing, branding, and optimizing for SEO may require 21 days or more.
Creating an e-commerce website from scratch is a multi-step process ranging from market research to marketing. Identifying your buyer persona and choosing the right platform to build your store is vital. Although branding is essential, I believe that the three major elements of a profitable e-business are:
- An offer (physical products, services, online courses) responding to a need or a desire. You’ll succeed by solving a problem and making someone’s life better.
- Create a high-performing site to handle traffic spikes and deliver your product smoothly.
- Elaborate on a marketing strategy to get high-converting traffic.
A solopreneur, a small business, and a big brand may have different needs, but the fundamental principles of starting an e-shop stay the same.
What Do You Need to Start an Online Store?
There are many ways to start an online store, but this guide will focus on the most common.
The first step is to get a domain name and hosting for your website. If you sell products online, you’ll need a secure place for people to pay for those products. This means you’ll need a web host that lets people pay securely through their credit card or PayPal account.
You don’t need millions of dollars to start an online store—many people have started their businesses with as little as $100! But depending on what kind of product you sell and how much inventory you need, costs can quickly add up if you aren’t careful with your budgeting.
So before jumping into this venture head-first (which we recommend!), make sure that you have enough money set aside for all your expenses like hosting fees or advertising costs (more on those below). Some must-have features of an online eCommerce store are as follows;
1. A domain name and web hosting
2. An eCommerce platform
3. Payment processing services
4. Shipping and inventory management software
Step-by-step guide: how to create an online eCommerce website
Step 1: Select your eCommerce store platform
Creating an online eCommerce store can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Following these steps will make your store ready to sell quickly!
Many platforms allow you to create an online store. You could use a hosted platform (Shopify or BigCommerce) or a self-hosted option (WordPress+Woocommerce). While the latter will give you more freedom and control over your site, the former may be easier for beginners and those without much technical knowledge.
Shopify is a hosted solution, which means everything you need to get started is included in one package: hosting space for your website, shopping cart software, analytics software, and more! Shopify also offers professional support for customers who want help getting started or who need assistance managing their store after launch. But here’s the catch: Hosted solutions aren’t free. You’ll pay around $29/month for hosting alone on Shopify (that price includes all the other features we mentioned above).
This post will lead you through the steps of creating an online store using WordPress and WooCommerce.
3 reasons to choose WordPress+Woocommerce to launch your eCommerce
1. It’s easy to set up your site using WordPress and Woocommerce. You can get started in minutes!
2. Many plugins make it easy to customize your store. This includes payment gateways, marketing tools, SEO optimization plugins, etc…
3. The hosting costs are less with this combination compared to Shopify or BigCommerce because it uses fewer resources on their end due to being open-source software which reduces overhead costs for both parties involved (developer/host).
Step2: Buy a domain name for your eCommerce store
Step 2: buy a perfect domain name for your store
A domain name is the address of your website. It’s like the street address of a house or an email address. It’s what people use to find you online. It’s also where you can get free WordPress hosting with free domain names from Bluehost and Siteground.
Where can you get domain names?
You can buy your domain name from any of the many registrars. The most popular registrar is GoDaddy, but many others also provide excellent services, such as Namecheap, Hover, and NameSilo. Each registrar will have different pricing for extensions (. com/.net/.org etc.), so make sure you buy one before getting started!
Which WordPress hostings provide free domain names?
Bluehost provides two free domains with their hosting plans, including unlimited storage space and bandwidth! They also offer 24/7 live chat support, a huge plus if something goes wrong with your site while trying to set up everything else in this step-by-step guide! Siteground also offers
If you’re looking for inspiration for naming your site, consider these steps:
1) What kind of business is this? Is there already an existing business with the same name? Do other businesses have names that customers might think are parts of the same company? If so, avoid those names!
2) Does it have any special meaning or significance? If so, make sure those meanings aren’t offensive or inappropriate (for example, “Birthday” might not be.
Step 3: Find a reliable Web Hosting solution for your online store
It would help if you looked at the following factors before purchasing a web hosting plan for an eCommerce store.
-Price – As an eCommerce store owner, you must keep track of all the expenses involved in running your business. That’s why finding a web hosting plan that fits your budget is crucial. But don’t compromise on quality just because it’s cheap!
-Reliability – If your website crashes or goes down during peak hours, it could cost you customers and revenue. So make sure that the web host you choose offers 24/7 support to handle such issues quickly and efficiently!
-Security – Your website should be protected from hackers, viruses, and other cyber threats by implementing SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificates on your site. This ensures that all sensitive information sent between your computer and theirs remains encrypted so that no one else can read it without having access to the decryption key first!
-Customer Support – You may not think about this at first, but customer service is one of the most important things when choosing a web hosting plan for eCommerce store owners like yourself because if something
We recommend that you start with one of Bluehost’s Woocommerce hosting plans. With Bluehost, Woocommerce hosting plans are made especially for eCommerce—making it easier to start selling online!
For $12.95/month, you’ll be able to sell as many products as you want right out of the box with no coding or design skills required.
- Free domain name first year
- Free SSL
- 200 GB SSD storage
- Free automatic updates for WordPress core software and themes/plugins
- Daily backups
- 24/7 support via chat or phone
Step 4: setting up WordPress
If you have selected Bluehost as your Webhosting, then after logging on to your cPanel, you’ll notice that WordPress is automatically installed on your website. Now log in to your WordPress website after clicking on “Login to WordPress.”
Once you have installed WordPress, go to the settings area to activate your free SSL certificate and edit the WordPress address and Site address.
Once you have edited the site name, click on the save changes.
Step 5: Install the WooCommerce plugin
Woocommerce plugin is easy to install, just like any other WordPress plugin.
Got to: Dashboard> Add New plugin > search for WooCommerce > click on install and activate.ad
When you have installed and activated the Woocommerce plugin, next, you’ll enter into the Woocommerce setup wizard to set up your online store.
You must provide basic information such as an address and region to build your online store. If you are a retailer, include your street or PO Box number.
Next, click the continue button to move on.
Next, you’ll be asked to choose an industry. This will help us ensure that other store owners in your category have enough demand for the type of products they sell.
After that, you’ll be asked to choose what type of products you want to sell. For instance, if your products need shipping, physical would be the best option.
You can also select multiple product types. For example, you may also want to sell physical products and eBooks. You don’t have to worry about selling different types of products; that choice is yours alone when adding new options.
When you click Continue, you’ll be asked to provide basic information about your business, like what products will be sold through Amazon and if this is a new account. You can say that no products are being sold yet (and select No for the other option).
Now, you need to go to the ‘Free Features’ tab. You’ll see a box checked for free features—installing these is optional.
It would be best if you uncheck this option so you don’t install any extensions that are not needed during the installation process. If for some reason, you need them later, you can always go back and do it yourself.
Click on the Continue button to proceed with setting up your online store. Next, you’ll be asked to choose a theme for your online store. You can continue with Storefront or one of the free themes listed on this page—or if none of those options work for you, click “custom design,” and away we go!
Don’t worry if you don’t pick out the perfect theme immediately: later in this article, we’ll show you how to choose one for your online store.
You have completed the basic steps for setting up your WooCommerce store.
Step 6: setup the payment method to accept online payments
Once you’re ready to start selling your products, you need to set up a payment gateway. This is where people pay for their purchases. You can choose from many options like Stripe, PayPal, or Shopify Payments. Each has its benefits and drawbacks, so you must find one that works best for your business needs.
WooCommerce offers a range of possible gateways that are simple to configure
To add a new payment option, go to the WooCommerce » Settings page and switch to the ‘Payments tab. You can choose your default options from PayPal Standard, Cash on Delivery (COD), Checks or Bank Transfers.
Below you will see the option to install Stripe, PayPal Checkout, and WooCommerce Payments. We recommend selecting Stripe and PayPal Standard as your payment options.
You can click the Setup button for each payment gateway and provide the required information. For example, you will need to enter your Stripe API keys (these are found under your account).
Remember to click the Save changes button after you’ve entered your payment information.
Step 5. Adding Products to Your Online Store
To add a new product to your store, click Products » Add New.
To create a category for this product, click on ‘+Add New Product Category. Make your website more user-friendly by adding a category for different products. It’ll help the users to find the products easily.
If you scroll down, the Product Data box will be visible. You can add product-related information like price, availability, and shipping details here.
Below this box, you will find a space to enter a short description of your product. These product descriptions are used on pages that display multiple products.
On the right side of your dashboard, you will see a box where you can add an image of the main product and another that displays pictures in slideshows.
Once you have added all your product information, click Publish to make it available on your website. Add more products by repeating the process.
Step 7: Select a page builder and install your WordPress theme
Themes control the way your WordPress sites look to visitors. A WooCommerce shop they have many options for customizing how products are displayed. Many WordPress themes are available for purchase, and many more are free.
However, most WordPress themes are not explicitly designed for eCommerce stores. Once you have installed a WooCommerce theme, you can change its look to suit your brand. To make these changes, you can visit the Appearance » Customize page and use the theme customizer to tweak different settings.
Modern WooCommerce themes come with numerous custom settings and are well-suited for use on desktop computers and smartphones.
Some popular page builders are:
- Beaver Builder
- Thrive Architect page builder
All of them are perfectly fine, but I recommend Thrive Architect because it includes a full suite of tools that work together to customize your store.
Thrive Architect is an effective visual WordPress page builder created for business websites focusing on conversions. It includes over 290 landing page templates and all the tools you need to create an online store and convert leads into customers. In addition to the page builder, you have the theme, the quiz builder, and much more.
Here is a preview of their page:
Step 8: supercharge your eCommerce store with WooCommerce extensions and plugins
Plugins will help in improving your eCommerce store performance. There are plenty of extensions that are approved by the WooCommerce team, and some of these extensions are already installed during the setup process. Some other extensions that can be handy are as follows;
- GetResponse helps people to build email lists and send out promotions. It also automates some of the processes of sending emails by helping users create template messages that they can quickly adapt for different purposes
- Facebook for WooCommerce allows you to use the power of social media to market your business.
- With Google Ads, you can advertise your products on any Google platform.
- Payment gateways allow you to accept more payment methods than PayPal does, and some of them are paid. The more payment methods you can afford to accept, the better.
- Shipping extensions. These will save you time if you need to automatically integrate your store with official shipping rates from companies such as UPS or FedEx.
- WooCommerce Bookings makes it easy for customers to book appointments without leaving your site.
- WooCommerce Subscriptions. Set up subscriptions to sell products or services on your WordPress website, with weekly, monthly, and annual billing options.
- EU VAT Number. This is mandatory for businesses operating inside the European Union, though exceptions apply (such as those providing e-services only).
- Automatically apply sales tax to invoices.
- The Yoast SEO plugin helps you improve the search engine optimization of your entire website.
- You can use JetPack to make your WordPress site more secure, better protected from hackers and malicious code, faster loading for users who are on slower connections (as they tend to be older), and able to grow without you ever having to think about it.
- WooCommerce Multilingual. Manage a multilingual e-commerce site
- Add Contact Form 7 or WPForms to your site so visitors can easily contact you.
- Back up your store content, including products, taxonomies, and other data.
- GetSocial’s Share button lets your buyers share products with their friends and family through social media—all in one place.
- MonsterInsights is a Google Analytics plugin.
- iThemes Security is a plugin designed to help you manage the complex security settings required by today’s websites.
- W3 Total Cache can make your website faster.
- Thrive Suite includes nine plugins, features, and multiple tools that can bring your business to the next level.
Choose wisely what extra extensions and plugins you need depending on your business goal and budget. In the beginning, try to use the least plugins possible to avoid conflict.
Wrapping Up: How much time and money do you need to invest?
As you’ve seen, creating an eCommerce store with WordPress doesn’t require advanced programming skills, but it will still take some time to complete all the above steps. A decade ago, you would have needed to hire a web developer and pay $5K to get something similar created. Now you can do everything yourself!
While some people use Shopify, Wix, Squarespace, and BigCommerce, I found that WordPress and Woocommerce are two powerful tools that make it easy for anyone to create an eCommerce website.
You have a wide price range from $140 to tens of thousands per year. The type of eCommerce, the size, the level of customization, and the traffic source are some elements explaining this significant difference. But, the only mandatory expenses are paying for payment processing, a domain name and web hosting.
Making an eCommerce website is not hard, but it requires commitment, time, and a little money.